Disney has acquired the rights to Agatha Christie's meek-old-lady-solving-crimes property Miss Marple and plans to turn it into a feature film reboot starring... Jennifer Garner, who is only 38 and primarily known for kicking people while wearing lingerie on Alias. So they're going a different way with it! A younger, and hence, more attractive way with it, which sounds like a financially sound trend that could really take off. Might we suggest even worse old people recasting/reboot ideas? Yes. Yes we might.
It's been six years since Winnie the Pooh and his fellow fluff-stuffed residents of the Hundred Acre Wood's last feature film outing, Pooh's Heffalump Movie. That may seem like a fair amount of time, but there are other classic Disney characters that have been exiled from movie theaters for much longer. Consider this the start of a campaign to get them back on the big screen where they belong.
How did Quasimodo get a Disney movie before Rapunzel? Okay, they were probably trying to go after the hunchbacked boys' market with that one, but everyone knows that the four most iconic princesses in fairy tales are Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Snow White and Rapunzel (as seen in Shrek the Third), and yet it took 50 animated feature films for Disney to get around to her. Perhaps they were waiting for computer animation technology to reach a point where they wouldn't have to hand-draw every single strand of hair on her head? Whatever the reason, it was worth the wait, because the end result is a flawless animated spectacle, with great vocal performances and one of the funniest and most entertaining princesses in Disney's cotillion.
Man, things are getting tough all over. We already know money's tight for individuals, families, and businesses, but fictional characters are starting to feel the pinch, as well. Recent reports suggest that Hollywood is recession-proof -- it is cheaper, after all, to watch a movie than to fly to Cancun for some fun in the sun -- but that protection doesn't seem to apply to all of Tinseltown's residents. Disney, for example, is getting out of the Narnia business by dumping the third installment of the C.S. Lewis trilogy that started with 2005's The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, effectively putting The Voyage of the Dawn Treader in limbo for the time being.
The Jonas Brothers are going to stink, and that's not a prediction about their musical future. No, this is entirely about the plot of their first feature film, which is being adapted from a series of children's books titled Walter the Farting Dog, reports Variety. The books look kind of cute, actually. It's hard to resist a dog who looks so embarrassed by his own odiferous wind. The movie, like the book series, is about a "fat dog with severe flatulence" who helps to rescue his new family using his intestinal fortitude. Meanwhile, the Jonas Brothers will be doing their music thing, which, as far as I can tell, is where the movie will differ from the books.
With the latest news (here, gleaned from an interview in Disney's in-house magazine) that Disney could possibly remake The Black Hole and/or 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, I have just one question: How many more of these remakes are possible? I mean, how many original cheesy Disney movies still exist that haven't yet been remade? ...No, really, I need to know how prepared I need to be, because it's starting to feel like when the world ends, the only things that will survive the apocalypse will be cockroaches and old Disney movies.
Back when Disney announced that its first foray back into hand-drawn animation would be The Frog Princess, a story about Maddy, a young black girl working for a spoiled white Southern debutant who was helped by a Voodoo priestess fairy godmother to win the heart of a white prince, many of us had the same reaction: "Wha-huh?" Followed fairly immediately with: "I don't know if that's the best idea." It looks like Disney has finally come to the same conclusion. Britain's The Independent is reporting that Disney has trashed everything from the character's name (who some say was too close to sounding like "Mammy") to the villain's race to the title.
It seems that Disney is tired of not having a superhero to call their own. What's Darkwing Duck, chopped goose liver?
Looking to get in on the comic-book-adapting game, the Mouse has hired a comic writer, a businessman and a Zappa to form Kingdom Comics, at once a clever play on Disney's own Magic Kingdom and the Biblical end of the world. (Nice!) It seems the new division will scout out graphic novels to publish that can be adapted into feature films, as well as creating graphic novels from Disney properties, which they can then turn back into feature films, thereby starting the cycle anew.
According to the newly revamped Hollywood Reporter, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson will appear in the retooled Escape from Witch Mountain/Return to Witch Mountain series for Disney. The new film, entitled Race To Witch Mountain, also features cameos by the original stars, Kim Richards and Ike Eisenmann. The Witch Mountain movies hold a special place for me because the Return version introduced me to Bette Davis. Miss Davis appeared as a villainess working with Hammer Films' resident Dracula, Christopher Lee. (That's Sarumon/Count Dooku to you.) Her role was in sharp contrast to that of the other famous actress Disney introduced me to, Helen Hayes. Hayes played a "good guy" role opposite Herbie the Love Bug, itself remade a few years ago with Lindsay the Drug Bug.
Disney loves remaking its features, especially those starring people who have gone on to bigger and better things like Kurt Russell and Jodie Foster. We've seen La Lohan redos of the aptly titled triumvirate of Freaky Friday, Fully Loaded and The Parent Trap. They've done live action versions of 101 Dalmatians with Glenn Close complicit in Cruella De Vil's plot to boil puppies the way she did Michael Douglas' rabbit. (How else was she going to get their fur off?) Robin Williams bounced around with Flubber and The Shaggy Dog starred Santa Clause cash cow Tim Allen. Since they're so used to going back to the well, I've got a few predictions for what films Disney will do next:
Old Yeller 2008: Old Yeller is now made of CGI and has facial and body expressions generated by Daniel Day-Lewis with sensors all over his body. Day-Lewis will spend 3 months in a cage at the ASPCA to get the feel for what being a dog is like, and will demand a doghouse and a fire hydrant instead of a trailer on the set. Since it's 2008 and kids today are wussies, Old Yeller doesn't wind up on the business end of a gun. Instead, he saves his young boy hero from a well. The makers of Lassie settle out of court.
Darby O'Gill And the Vertically Challenged People: Sean Connery will come out of retirement to remake the movie he wishes he could forget he made, Darby O'Gill and the Little People. Connery's role in the original is now played by Ewan McGregor, so Connery will be digitally shrunk to play one of the vertically challenged folks. This musical reunites McGregor with Nicole Kidman, his costar in Moulin Rouge. Songs by Randy Newman and Sinead O'Connor.
Rap of the South: They'll never drag Song of the South out of the Disney vault, but that doesn't mean they can't do a politically correct version of it to capitalize on the current rap craze. The first R-rated movie under the Walt Disney Pictures banner stars Southern rap stars Andre 3000, Master P, and Li'l John in the tale of a wise old storyteller (Samuel L. Jackson) who teaches the young men in his charge how to be better fathers and sons through the magic of rap. Pixar will do the computer animations and "Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah" will be remixed by Kanye West.
I can't wait.
Just a few days ago at Comic-Con, the video-game-turned-movie Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time was being talked up as a June 2009 release. Note the date on the promotional poster which, without a picture of princely star Jake Gyllenhaal, might as well be an ad for a Pier 1 sale. Variety is now reporting that Walt Disney Pictures has pushed back the release date nearly a full year to Memorial Day weekend 2010. Hey, maybe next year at the con Disney will hand out little "10"s you can stick to the posters they gave you this year!